sky’s the limit
The only way was up when it came to creating more space in this Surrey Victorian semi
After renovating a two-bedroom maisonette at the age of 23, illustrator Kat Mannell had plenty of design nous under her belt when the time came to move again. ‘We made offers on three properties, but this one had the biggest garden, original fireplaces and scope to extend, so it was our first choice,’ says Kat, who lives in this house with her husband, Dominic, their children, Ruby, seven, and Molly, five, plus Cockapoo Harry.
Although the decor was not to Kat’s taste – Ruby’s bedroom had a purple pearlescent fireplace and orange carpets, while the sitting room featured a red chimney breast and dark stained floorboards – she was not daunted by the work ahead. Plans were quickly drawn up to convert the loft into a main bedroom with en-suite shower room. This meant knocking out the chimney breast to accommodate a new staircase. ‘We had to lose the original fireplace in Molly’s bedroom, unfortunately, but we were able to keep the other three,’ says Kat.
However, the project was not without its challenges. ‘The builders forgot to put a roof light in the stairwell, which meant they had to cut through the new roof,’ explains Kat. ‘They also ordered the wrong window for the en suite and miscalculated the size of the bespoke staircase, so the job took five months instead of three.’ Luckily, Dominic had taken some courses in DIY so was able to tackle the plumbing, tiling and electrics for the new en suite himself, which saved time and helped keep costs down.
Although the couple love the finished conversion, they chose a different builder, Martin Williams of Williams Design and Build, for the second tranche of work
downstairs. Because the tiny kitchen was sandwiched between the dining room and a bathroom, it desperately needed opening up. ‘Dominic loves to cook, so such a small kitchen just wasn’t practical,’ says Kat. ‘The green tiles and walls didn’t work for us, and it felt dark and draughty with a stable door and just one single-glazed window.’
The solution was to knock through to create a large kitchen-diner. ‘I’m so glad we went with Martin’s idea to add a picture window and skylight,’ says Kat. ‘They both let in so much light and the large window is great for keeping an eye on the children when they’re playing in the garden.’
As she previously worked in an interior design store, Kat had lots of ideas about how she wanted her home to look. ‘I stuck to a monochrome colour palette, combined with elements of green, blush and mustard,’ she says. ‘So each room has its own look, yet also ties in with the rest of the house.’
Rather than planning every tiny detail, Kat prefers to source one item she loves as a starting point for each room. ‘In the bathroom it was the yellow tiles, which I found by chance,’ she says. ‘I’ve kept the rest of the scheme simple so they stand out.’
As an interiors blogger, Kat is always finding inspiration for small updates she can do. ‘I’m itching for another project,’ she says, ‘ but I’m really happy with the finished result – we all love this home.’
design tip ‘Mix practicality with aesthetics when you have children. I think I’d avoid white tiles next time!’
DINING area elements of blush and a few personal touches soften the monochrome scheme. Walls painted in Setting Plaster estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Penn oak chest of drawers, £ 499, is similar; Hue pendant shade in White Clay and Copper, £29; Rita table lamp in Copper and Marble, £79, all Made.comentrance as there is no hallway, Kat has dedicated a corner to taking off shoes and coats. Morton console table, £297, Blue Suntree, is similar. Norraker bench, £ 40, Ikea. Bhurma cushion cover, £23, Holly’s HouseSITTING ROOM this room was decorated several times before Kat settled on a muted palette. Walls painted in Railings estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & Ball. Zinc two-seater sofa, £929, DFS. Vilma stool, £76, Maisons du Monde. Jessie leaning bookcase, £110, Habitat
MOLLY’S BEDROOM Although this room was partitioned to allow for a staircase to the loft conversion, there’s still ample space for Molly to play. The blue-green walls are the perfect backdrop for vintage-style furniture. walls painted in oval room blue estate emulsion, £ 45 for 2.5L, Farrow & ball. Large flag bunting, £ 4 a letter, rosie Meringue. rainbow print, £15, eleanor bowmer. happy hopscotch rug, £72, Maisons du MondeOFFICE AREA The space under the eaves at the front of the main bedroom has been used as a desk area where Kat can work on her bespoke, hand-drawn creations for her Etsy shop, Art House Illustrations. black pom-pom garland, £32, bohemia Design, is similar. try Palm Leaves poster, £7, Desenio. Neo metal table lamp in Copper, £39, Cult Furniture, is similar. Moppe mini chest of drawers, from £15, Ikea